What eating disorder recovery was really like

I didn’t know I was so far along in recovery until I heard someone use the term “eating disordered” last week and began wondering if that is a term that even describes me anymore.

I’m not free of behaviors/symptoms 100% of the time…but I’d say about 80-85% of the time I am completely symptom-free. I don’t obsess about food as much. I don’t plan out my binges in advance, and hide the packaging and trash from my husband. When I’m stressed, I am able to remind myself that eating to the point of physical pain is not going to make me feel any better.

I am finally at the point where I can focus on making healthy choices, and eating things that will make my body feel good, without entering the cycle of restricting, binging, then restricting to compensate for the binge, and so on.

The weird thing is I can’t pinpoint anything specific I did to move myself so far along in recovery. Rather, I think I’m in the place I am today because of what I STOPPED doing.

I stopped thinking about food as the enemy. I pretty much stopped thinking about food entirely – or at least, I only think about food in a normal way now (when I’m hungry).

I stopped making my entire life about my recovery. I tried to focus more on doing things that made me happy, and less on recovery/food/weight.

I stopped telling myself that I could only be happy once my eating disorder was gone.

Basically, the more and more I lived my life to the fullest- despite my struggles with food, despite being overweight, despite being “un-recovered”…the easier recovery became. For me, finding life — and an identity — outside of and apart from my eating disorder was the most crucial step in my recovery.

I used to have a blog about food, fitness, weight loss…and later, about my eating disorder. Now I have a blog about my life…and I only write about the aforementioned topics when I feel like it. I don’t think of myself as a person with an eating disorder before I think of myself as a student, a wife, a friend, a writer, a teacher, etc.

Eating disorder recovery update

On Saturday as I was putting groceries away, I realized I’ve come a long way in the past year. And when I look at the past three years…the amount of growth, increased understanding/awareness, acceptance, and positive change is pretty insane.

We have things in our pantry right now that I would have been too afraid to buy six months ago: Goldfish. Pirate’s Booty. Crackers. Cinnamon-roasted almonds. Yes, I do package things into single serving bags because it really helps me. I hope that someday I won’t have to do it, but it works well for me right now. I also made a dessert (vanilla Chex/Oreo bars- kind of like Rice Krispy treats) on Saturday, something I haven’t done in months. I definitely tasted as I went along, and I ate an Oreo while I was making it, but I don’t feel like that’s something “disordered” or harmful.

Has it been difficult having “sweets” around? Yes. We went to Boston yesterday and brought some pastries home, so right now there are a few pastries in the fridge plus the Oreo/Chex bars. It’s tough. There have been moments of mindless snacking, but each time, I’ve been able to think about what I was doing and stop eating. I can’t remember the last time I actually binged- probably at the beginning of July. Understanding and accepting the difference between bingeing and overeating has always been a struggle for me. I tend to consider any overeating, whether the cause is from negative emotions (sadness, anger, etc.), stress, or boredom, bingeing. However, that is simply not the case. There is a distinction that needs to be made.

I’m not bingeing anymore. I overeat occasionally- like everybody does. Sometimes when I’m watching a movie I have a snack even if I’m not truly “hungry”- like everybody does. It finally feels okay, and not something I need to feel guilt and shame over. And it feels pretty damn great.